What I wish I’d known in my 20s

I’m now meandering into my thirties, and along the way I’ve learnt some crucial journey changing nuggets of information. And so, if I had a time machine – I would tell my twenty-year-old designer self…

  • Have a plan.
    Fear of the unknown and not wanting to offend often left me just plodding along. When I went freelance I had to start being more proactive about my time, chasing work and choosing the right opportunities. What kind of designer did I want to be? What work did I want to do? As time went on, I made sure that my decisions were working me towards ‘my end goal’.
  • Go with the gut.
    From everyday design choices, to knowing which clients are good to work with – my gut often steers me in the right direction (not always, sometimes it is just the curry from the night before). I’d kick myself when a dodgy client didn’t pay, or I missed out on a freelance stint somewhere but my gut had been warning me from the off.
  • Focus on yourself/stop worrying about what people think*.
    To be fair it didn’t take me too long to figure this one out. I’m still a worrier but try to keep it at a level that makes me contentious rather than indecisive (this is not always achieved). It’s also worth realising that not every bit of information needs to be shared with your peers/competitors etc.
    *Except the client, who is obviously paying for you to care what they think.
  • Make time to do what you love.
    We all have those bring-home-the-bacon jobs, and sometimes we need those more than others. But even when you’re up to your eyeballs it’s important to make time for the little creative jobs that keep you sane. Yes they may be less money. Yes they may be more of a ballache to manage but they’re good for your portfolio and your sanity.
  • Realise your worth.
    When you enjoy what you do, it’s hard to put a price tag on it – but you’re undervaluing your skills if you don’t. Nothing is worse than doing crazy hours for a job that you’ve under-costed for.

And finally – that age old sum up point. Chill out. Things will work out. What’s meant to be will be.

The lost logos

We always advocate designing 3 brand/logo options where possible – during this process we explore competitors, and delve deep into what the client’s business is really about. And progress from here to design three different logo options (making sure they get their money’s worth and all that…).

Obviously, only one logo can be the winner – which leaves logos that disappear into the abyss for ever. Which got me thinking, here lies a good opportunity for a blog post, and to show these logos a peep into the world.

For whatever reason, I present to you a range of…the lost logos.


Social Media manager
See the final brand

Property developer

See the final brand

Accountancy firm
See the final brand

Launching a successful startup brand – the big questions

Some of the most exciting projects for us are the startup brands, but these come with their own challenges – in particular for the client themselves. We thought we’d share some of the things we encourage our clients to think about when trying to get their brand off the ground…


1. Firstly – a statement rather than a question, and usually one of the most common things I find myself saying to clients – a good brand does not just consist of a logo.
There are so many other elements to consider to set you up for the long run. What style of typography compliments your branding? What colour palette are you going to use consistently, from stationery to your website? What kind of imagery are you going to use? And so on. Leaving these questions unanswered at the beginning only makes it more difficult in the long run.

2. What is the ‘elevator pitch’?
You know the one. You’re stuck in an elevator and somebody asks what your business does. Cheesy as this sounds, asking this question gets you to sum up what you do quickly and concisely. It also gets you to think about keywords that refine what your offering is and how you want to set yourself apart.

3. Who are your audience?
You’ve probably already thought about this one a lot (hopefully). But summing it up for someone else trying to understand what you do can be tricky. You don’t want to alienate an audience at the beginning for fear of being too specific, but highlighting some of these key audiences can help shape who you are and make you stand out from the crowd.

4. What is your history and why are you starting said business…?
Usually our favourite question to ask. From learning about why a son is joining his Dad’s Steel Frame family business, to a reflexologist who has a particular interest in women’s health because of her own experiences. Knowing who you are and how you got there is a good way to figure out what your USP is, and where you sit in the marketplace.

5. What brands do you appreciate? Even the ones that are at the other end of the spectrum from what you’re offering.
The important thing about this question though, is that it’s always imperative to point back to question 3 (your audience). Designing something that draws your audience is key, however, you’ve got to live with it every day so it’s got to be something you’re happy with. The brands you love say a lot about you as a person and usually tie in with your offering anyway!

6. Who are your competitors? The good and the bad.
Joe Bloggs down the road may do what you do, but he doesn’t do it as good as you do. Or at least that’s what first impressions should suggest. Pulling out the sparkly super competitors and the not-so-sparkly ones can help position your spot in the marketplace. It’s important to set you apart but also to understand what your competitors do well. Do you notice that all the big wigs use blue in their logo with Sans Serif fonts…? Why? It’s important to challenge these decisions and know which ones to take guidance from without ripping them off.


These are just some of the things worth considering. From asking the right questions in the consultation stage to putting together a mini brand-guidelines and full blown website – we can build something that sets you up for the long haul.

Want to get your go-get-em brand off the ground? Get in touch to see how we can help.


Dismaland – not a theme park.

Whilst I’m sure there are countless blog posts on this subject – I felt obliged to share my dismal experience of Banksy’s latest exhibition. I say ‘exhibition’ because that’s what it is, anyone expecting a theme park will, and should be, disappointed.

My first thought – I’ve paid in advance for a ticket and I still have to queue for 45 minutes  – evaporated every time I took a sideways glance at the (huge) crowds who hadn’t bought a ticket in advance. Once in, and past the security guards who yelled at us to swap sunglasses/hats, I realised that I would have to queue again. And again. And again. Was this part of the dismal British experience?

Second thought, were the queues worth it? Yes, I think so – what did I expect really. As soon as we bumped into a ‘Dismal’ employee, we realised how their miserable personas brought much-needed humour to the whole experience. Weirdly, some members of the public/die-hard fans had tried to take part in the experience by dressing up in furry mascot costumes. Odd, but not un-enjoyable.

The gallery showcased most of the non-Banksy art alongside the ‘grim reaper’ riding a dodgem to ‘staying alive’ by the Beegees. This whole area was bigger than expected with standout pieces like the model village missing it’s villagers, filled only with flashing blue lights and policemen.

The castle was, as it should have been, the most impactful piece. With a pumpkin-carriage on it’s side, twisted horses and paparazzi taking photos of princess Diana, sorry, Cinderella – it left you with a heavy feeling, which again was lightened by the staff yelling at you to ‘get in line’ and ‘sod off’.

Another strong, perfectly timed message was that of immigration (made stronger by the recent news that remains of Dismaland are being taken to Calais to build shelters). Mini immigrants float face down in the water as you navigate little boats around them, another heavy feeling ensues. This feeling made more uneasy by the fact that small children were gleefully taking hold of the controls. What did they think of the dead Cinderella and the Donald Duck teddy with it’s guts spilling out I wondered. And would I have brought my children to a theme park that would no doubt crush some of their enviable innocence? No, because it is not a theme park.


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A Google Logo opinion

It did feel like a Google logo update was on the multi-coloured horizon – and as always the initial reaction is uncertainty. However, this is a grower. In comparison with the previous logo you realise it was needed – and their supporting argument is clear in the logo itself.

‘These days, people interact with Google products across many different platforms, apps and devices…we’re introducing a new logo and identity family that reflects this reality’


It certainly looks more ‘app-like’. The Sans Serif font (or ‘product sans’ as they call it) is bold, clean but in need of a diet. And, the ‘e’ on an angle adds an essential pinch of Google personality. And the multi coloured ‘G’ icon is…ok. Like I said, it’s a grower.


However, and this gripe is reasonable, the animation to support the logo is bad. Uninspired. Easy. Obvious. Old. In general their animations compromise the Google branding and look like an outside party has had too much input (I’m guessing this is usually the case). But this time the outside party isn’t to blame. A hand rubs out the old logo and draws the new one back on. Really? Is this their way of saying, ‘we’re updating our logo to tie in with modern technological advances but we don’t forget that writing ideas on a chalkboard is still useful’? Come on Google. You can do better.

It’s nearly there but these supporting elements could do with more than a little refinement. Therefore I think it’s only a matter of time before another update looms on the colourful horizon…

Engineering a strong brand and website

We were originally approached by Hardwicke Enterprise to update their brand – their established business was still growing and it was important to keep in line with their customer reputation.

Learning about their offering and how certain products were taking the forefront, it became clear that a new focus was needed on the website in particular. CNC Machining and Fabrication wasn’t highlighted enough, and their customers needed more flexibility with requests on the contact page. These conversations all helped with the initial brand job – getting this right first would give us everything we needed for the website design.

A competitive analysis showed a mixed bag, the best brands standing out with clean websites (efficient and well engineered..). From here a final logo stood out – using the ‘cog’/’saw’ as a strong icon and a bright line to reflect the base of the business. Hardwicke Enterprise being the piece that creates the final product and brings it altogether.

Our ‘kit of parts’ complete, the website design could then begin. Based on a template approved by the client we built an impactful homepage that stood way ahead of their closest competition, and inner pages that were clean and to the point – summing up their offering quickly and clearly. A blog was introduced to add personality and their social media was brought in line with the new branding. Visit www.hardwickeenterprise.co.uk to see the website in full force.







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Branding for Infinity and beyond

After helping Infinity Hair & Beauty update their existing logo we created some signage to help settle them in to their new salon at Over Farm, Gloucestershire.

This new move also brought the need for a new website, and this was the perfect opportunity to take their branding to the next level. Aspirational images were introduced to bring personality and a colour palette was reaffirmed. Strong typographic headlines over dreamy header images made the responsive layout even more impactful. Icons were created and testimonials introduced to make the user journey fun.

Alongside this it was important that the price lists were laid out in an organised fashion, and the journey from here to the contact form was easy for the customer. Once Infinity had seen and lovingly approved their website, we gave them training so that they could update it themselves.

Of course a case study has been created, pictures for this below. Take a look at the full website here. Or the case study in full here.










Some of our business card branding

We recently had some new business cards printed. Designed by us (of course), they reflect our branding with a dramatic full black background and hints of blue. On an extremely thick, matte luxe stock our logo and details stand out in the stark white, hopefully leaving the impact with the recipient. Here are some snaps…





A touch of Takeaway Lavender

Just a quick post to share with you these roll fold leaflets we recently had designed for the Lavender Bakehouse. Printed on Gesso paper in a design that reflects their main menus (take a peek) – these were perfect for customers to pick up and give them insight into the extra offerings this coffee shop can provide. Keen to push these ‘buffet lunches’ and ‘cakes on demand’ from their coffee shop in Chalford, Stroud – the client was pleased to receive a large £120 order within a week of leaving these leaflets on the counter. We love a result.

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